I love using the tiering approach when it comes to rankings. For those who don’t know what tiered rankings are, we group players together based on similar projections or situations. When drafting, you can use tiered rankings such as the one from this Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet to figure out which position you should target next. If the elite running backs tier only has two players left, but the elite wide receivers tier has five players, you should target a running back in that group of rankings before you select a wide receiver.
One glance at my quarterback rankings and you will notice I’m extremely high on Kirk Cousins and Jameis Winston while being lower than most on Matt Ryan. It goes under the radar, but Cousins finished as QB5 overall in 2016 with nine Top 12 finishes at the position. Those finishes among QBs were more than Matthew Stafford, Derek Carr, and Marcus Mariota. As for Winston, he has the best weapons of his brief career with DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard joining the team. I think Winston can have an Andrew Luck-esque season in which he throws for 4,200 yards, 30-plus touchdowns, chips in 200 rushing yards and a few rushing touchdowns. The reason he’s ranked behind Cousins is because Winston’s floor is a tad lower. Keep in mind both have rather suspect defenses, which should lead to many favorable game scripts this season.
Ryan’s regression is obvious. He posted career highs across the board last season despite just 534 pass attempts (his lowest total since 2009). The Falcons also have a new offensive coordinator in Steve Sarkisian. While it’s been reported they will run the same offense from Kyle Shanahan’s tenure, it won’t be exactly the same. P.S. Just because I have Cousins and Winston ranked higher than Ryan doesn’t mean you have to draft those guys as early as Ryan is going.
I’m on record saying that in non-PPR Fantasy Football formats, you should own two of the Top 15 running backs even if it means using your first and second round picks. The cutoff is Joe Mixon, who many are expecting to become the workhorse back for the Cincinnati Bengals. Jeremy Hill has averaged 3.67 yards per carry over the past two regular seasons. I’m not sure how much more the Bengals need to see.
In 2016, we saw two rookie running backs lead the NFL in rushing. We might have expected it from Ezekiel Elliott, but certainly not Jordan Howard. Three running backs who are in similar situations this season include Samaje Perine, Kareem Hunt, and Jamaal Williams. Make sure to keep an eye on each back during the preseason, as their performances could dictate whether they become the starter. In my opinion, Perine has the best opportunity to win his respective job in a high-octane Redskins offense.
At wide receiver, the most obvious difference from the consensus is my stance on Julio Jones. I will never doubt his talent. If you guaranteed me Jones would play 16 games this season, I might even take him over Antonio Brown. With that being said, he’s dealt with recurring foot injuries over the years. I know he’s played through injuries for the most part, but he had yet another surgery on this same foot during the offseason. I’m just worried that eventually this injury will hamper his ability to get on the field and we will see a season in which he misses significant time.
If I’m a fan of Cousins, I must be a fan of his receivers, right? I think a Jamison Crowder breakout might be on the horizon, one in which he can flirt with 85-plus receptions, 1,000 receiving yards and 6-8 touchdowns. As for Terrelle Pryor, he won’t be targeted as heavily as he was in Cleveland, but the quality of those targets will be much better. The yards and receptions won’t be as high as Crowder’s, but Pryor should flirt with double-digit touchdowns. Pryor and Jordan Reed will be absolute beasts in the red zone. Defenses can choose to stop one or the other, but it’s not likely they will stop both.
With any questions about my rankings or anything Fantasy Football related, contact me on Twitter @Roto_Frank! Here is my Fantasy Football cheat sheet, powered by FantasyPros.com.